Jul 13, 2011

Tips for making a space seem larger.

We need to live with the spaces we have, whether they are an apartment, a dorm room, or a small home. To make them seem larger and help make them feel less crowded, try one or more of these ideas.

Lighting, glass and color play a part making this two room apartment feel larger.

1) Lighten up.  Yes, light does make spaces seem larger. If you use up-lights under large pieces of furniture or in dark corners, the illusion is that more space exists.  Rather than leaving corners empty, try adding a table and lamp.  Mirrors that reflect natural daylight are a great way to 'add' space as well. Even if you don't have windows, place a lamp in front of a mirror on the darkest, largest wall and see how it brightens and enlarges the space. Using glass table tops, insets with lighted shelves for cabinets,  and even remove doors to rooms to allow light in.

2) Arrange furniture wisely.  A few ideas on this topic work well in small spaces. First is scaling the pieces to work in the space. Don't purchase large, rolled arm sofas when you have a 10' x 10' room. Instead, opt for a loveseat and even armless chairs; you add seating without mass.  Two, floating furniture away from the walls DOES make it seem as though the room is larger. It allows you to walk around and through the furnishings giving a grander apparent space.  Third, angling furniture on short walls - placing pieces together can help like a table backed up to a loveseat - since your eye sees a longer wall dimension, hence, space.

3) Color counts.  If you can keep the largest pieces in the same tone as the walls, they will blend in and make a room feel wider.  Lighter colors do tend to make spaces look larger, although breaking that 'rule' works if other elements - lighting, scale, and accents - help the eye travel around a space. Monochromatic schemes in neutral colors work well, adding back an accent hue to draw attention to points around the room.

4) Raise things up.  Even if your ceilings are only 8' high, there are several tricks to give the illusion of height in a room. Place window coverings above the windows so they seem taller. Use moldings and other architectural elements to raise the eye up - a crown, medallions for hanging fixtures, tall shelves to the ceiling.  Hang light fixtures slightly higher, and do the same with artwork. 

5) Make things function well. Need a desk, a table, some storage? Find or make a piece that performs all three functions and save space.  In dorms and apartments, a work desk usually becomes a dining table, and placed on a wall - possibly perpendicular - allows you to add shelving for books and office 'stuff' and still make the desk feel like a table. When looking for ways to divide a space - say the bed area from the sofa area - use open shelving that can house a TV, lighting, decorative and functional items, and look good doing so. Console tables can make ideal desks, and even dining tables. Backed up to an open backed sofa, creates a great dining area with instant seating. Using benches for seating around tables adds storage for quick access.